FAIR Code of conduct

The work by investigative journalists requires honesty, fairness, and equity, and must be dedicated to the quality of life of the public. Investigative journalists must therefore perform under a standard of professional behavior that requires adherence to the highest principles of ethical conduct.

All FAIR members, office bearers, board and staff are requested to act in accordance with the values and principles below, which are in line with global ethics and standards in the journalism profession and also in line with generally accepted codes of ethics in companies and institutions.

Breach of this code of conduct will be regarded by FAIR in a serious way and complaints regarding such a breach will be considered by the FAIR Board, or by a special committee appointed by the FAIR Board to deal with such matters.

The FAIR Board can, in the case of serious breaches, go as far as expel any member from the organization if it is considered proven that the individual in question did not live up to the requirements of this Code, and/or dismiss an office bearer, consultant or employee in accordance with SA labour Laws.

It is practically impossible to cover every single conceivable wrong which may be committed against the organisation in a single document.

The rules below are pertinent to issues which plague the journalism profession in general, namely:

  • conflicts of interest.
  • distortion of information.
  • neglect in correcting errors.
  • failure to seek responses on allegations of wrongdoing
  • unfair competition with colleagues
  • injury to FAIR  *(injury is a broad term and the purpose and effect may be given in accordance with the respective issue at the relevant point in time)

1. General Rules

1.1. To avoid situations where personal and financial interests may conflict with FAIR’s interests.

1.2. To comply with relevant country laws on media, communication and constitution.

1.3. To adhere on globally accepted codes of professional journalism ethics.

1.4. To refrain from unfair competition with members and/or colleagues (plagiarise, steal scoops)

1.5. To conduct proper fact checks and ensure authenticity of all published images.

1.6. To ensure that proper rights of rebuttal are afforded to interested parties.

1.7. To adhere strictly with the Ombudsman’s code applicable to each country and/or  publication.

1.8. To withhold confidential information from outsiders, namely financial reports, official correspondence and minutes of meetings.

1.9. To refrain from offering bribes, gifts or funds that leads to gaining advantage within the organisation.

1.10. To notify the Board Chairman about information that may affect the image of FAIR.

1.11. To avoid circulating conflicting messages from diverse parties within FAIR.

1.12. To refrain from releasing information to donors, partners and stakeholders that might enable third parties to damage FAIR’s credibility.

1.13. To channel information for public disclosure through the Board Chairman and Secretary General.

1.14. To refrain from actions that could embarrass, defame, misrepresent or convey an unjust or unfavourable impression of FAIR and its operations,members, employees, suppliers, partner media, customers, competitors and stakeholders.

1.15. To make full and proper disclosures of all external business and social interests, in order for

FAIR to maintain it’s impartial integrity and ultimately avoid cases of conflict of interest.

2. Behavioral guidance rules

2.1. FAIR members and office bearers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information when required.

2.2. FAIR office bearers and members shall disclose all known or potential conflicts of interest that could influence or appear their work or their activities within FAIR.

2.3. FAIR office bearers and members shall not falsify their qualifications or permit misrepresentation of their qualifications. They shall not misrepresent or exaggerate their responsibility in or for the subject matter of prior assignments.

2.4. FAIR members / office bearers shall acknowledge their errors and shall not distort or alter facts.

2.5. FAIR members / office bearers shall not promote their own interest at the expense of the dignity and integrity of the investigative journalism profession.

2.6. FAIR members/ office bearers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest, the interest of the investigative journalism profession and the interest of the organization.

2.7. FAIR members/ office bearers shall avoid all conduct or practices which deceives members of the organization and the general public.

2.8 FAIR members/ office bearers  shall not disclose, without consent, confidential information concerning the internal affairs of FAIR.

2.9. FAIR members / office bearers shall not attempt to gain advantage in the organisation by untruthfully criticizing other members or colleagues,  or by other improper or questionable methods.

2.10. FAIR members/ office bearers shall not injure, maliciously or falsely, directly or indirectly, the professional reputation, prospects, practice, or employment of other members/ office bearers/ colleagues.

2.11. FAIR members/ office bearers who strongly believe others are guilty of unethical or illegal practice shall present such information to the FAIR Board for action.

2.12. FAIR is a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) registered in South Africa, and the common laws of the Republic of South Africa are applicable to governance of this organisation.

2.13. FAIR reporters need to keep abreast of developments with statutory laws and regulations in their own countries that govern printing and broadcasting of journalistic material.

* Approved by the FAIR Board on 31 August 2012.


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Forum for African Investigative Reporters